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December 13, Brooklyn, New York…The emergency room in a hospital is probably one of the most stressful places on earth where the he patient is frightened and the family is worried. At Lutheran Medical Center's fast paced emergency room and Level I Trauma Center, much effort has been placed on patient centered care and making the emergency room experience more comfortable for everyone. Thanks to a new, efficient and streamlined triage process called "Quick Care," patients are seen and evaluated within 30 minutes on average. Now, Lutheran has teamed up with Zichron Schloime Refuah Fund, to provide patients with an extra measure of personalized comfort.

The volunteers from Zichron Schloime are part of Lutheran's hospital-wide, Ambassador Program and are stationed in the emergency room where they are available to help the patients and their families by providing non-medical assistance. "We try to be helpful in whatever way we can," says Esther Friedman, one of the volunteers and a founding member of Zichron Schloime. "Sometimes it's an extra pillow or a drink. Other times, it's just being there to offer encouragement. A good word goes far when someone is ill or in pain."

The Ambassador Program, initiated earlier this year, utilizes the services of prominent community volunteers who give their time to help the hospital. "In the beginning we had the Ambassadors stationed only in the lobby where we noticed people would often look overwhelmed and confused as they arrived," says Karen Lennon, Lutheran's senior vice president of External Affairs, who initiated the program. "The Ambassadors are there to help reduce the confusion and make people feel that someone cares. They answer questions, accompany people to the floor they want to go to, or show them where they can buy a cup of coffee. Whatever is needed, they are there to help."

Zichron Schloime volunteers approached Wendy Goldstein, Lutheran's president and CEO, and asked if there was any way they could do volunteer work at the hospital. "They came to me and said, 'We're looking to do something for the patients here. How can we help?' I was impressed with their eagerness to make a difference in the quality of our patients' care and they have turned out to be a real asset to our emergency room," says Mrs. Goldstein.

The Zichron Schloime volunteers were placed in the emergency room where the staff welcomed their assistance. "They have been enormously helpful," said Bonnie Simmons, D.O., chair of Emergency Medicine. "Very quietly and with discretion, the women visit the patient's bedside and help them in whatever way they can."

It's a real win-win situation, as patients and staff derive the benefits of extra pairs of hands. "The Doctors in the Emergency department would love to be able to attend to the personal needs of each patient however this is often not possible. It is extremely helpful to have the ambassador there to help with support our patients. And make them as comfortable as possible. As much as medical staff would love to be able to cater more personally to each patient when they are in the ER, because of the nature of the care they deliver, their time is limited with the individual patient. It's extremely helpful to have someone there who can help with the non-medical needs of the patients," Dr. Simmons commented.

The volunteers say they are the ones who are benefiting. "It's incredibly rewarding to see what a difference we are making," says Chaya Friedman (no relation) who partners with Mrs. Friedman every Tuesday. "Lutheran's emergency room is really quite impressive. I was expecting the usual bedlam that was my experience with emergency rooms. I was pleasantly surprised to find a well-run, quiet, clean and efficient place." Mrs. Friedman also noted that she compared her volunteer experience in the emergency room to her previous volunteer work at another hospital where she visited post partum patients. "Visiting a patient who just had a baby is a joyous kind of thing. The patients are happy and so are the families. I was expecting volunteering in the emergency room to be a depressing experience. Instead I find it to be extremely uplifting. Just last week, one patient told me, 'You have given me the courage to go on,' that made me feel like I was making a real contribution to the people I am trying to help."

Lutheran is committed to providing members of the community appropriate high quality care that is sensitive to cultural and religious standards and observances. Lutheran offers many services specifically tailored for the Jewish community including a fully stocked Bikur Cholim Yad Yaakav room with Shabbos provisions, a full-time on-staff Rabbi, Mehadrin and Glatt Kosher meals, and a conveniently located Shabbos elevator.


A Level I Trauma Center and Stroke Center, Lutheran Medical Center (LMC) has cared for Brooklyn communities since 1883. As a full service 476-bed teaching hospital, LMC is the hub of Lutheran HealthCare, a network of primary, acute and long-term care centers in southwest Brooklyn. The LMC Surgical Weight Loss Institute is the only program in Brooklyn to be designated as a Center of Excellence by the American Society for Bariatric Surgery while also holding a Level 1 Accreditation from the American College of Surgeons. In 2008, LMC will celebrate its 125th anniversary throughout the year with community events, screenings and special workshops. Learn more about LMC and its commitment to patient care excellence, community service, health education and research online at

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